By now, you’re probably past questioning whether a corporate reputation management function makes sense for your firm. After all, seven out of ten crisis-experienced board members say it takes anywhere from one to five years to recover from a reputational crisis.
Most firms don’t have that kind of time, especially when the stakes are so high. And high they are. Research shows that reputation accounts for as much as a quarter of your company’s market capitalization. Still, senior stakeholders waking up to the fact that they need to protect their firms might not be sure how to get started. Here are some surefire tips to get you up and running:
- Touch the entire business. Reputation management should be integrated across all of your business units, especially your operational units. Those are where more and more corporate crises are emerging from. What does that mean in practical terms? It just means that managers in those units need to be empowered to spot issues of reputational significance and encouraged to report those issues up the command chain.
- Use consistent tracking methods. Don’t let the fact that everyone in the business is now looking out for your reputation be an excuse for things to turn into a free for all. Instead, deploy consistent tracking methodologies, i.e. use one technology across all of your relevant business units. That will keep your KPIs consistent. Sophisticated social sentiment analysis tools, for instance, monitor conversations on a company’s social channels and determine the deeper contexts behind the digital exchanges.
- Let the data be your guide. Social sentiment technology also yields easily digestible data about what your company’s many audiences, foremost its customers, really feel about your business. Analyzing the data isn’t enough though. You have to use those easily actionable data points to help guide your company’s response to crisis, as well as measure the reaction that that response engenders over social channels.
- Change the culture. Clearly, procuring the right technology and setting up the right processes are crucial first steps. But developing a reputation management competency at your business actually starts with a larger cultural commitment to listening and fact-finding. And that commitment has to start at the very top of the organization.
Just remember, your company’s reputation is one of its most valuable assets. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the easiest to lose. Warren Buffett puts it best: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
More worrisome still is the fact that firms are running against some serious reputation headwinds, like a generalized distrust for business. Guard against reputational damage by developing an integrated, cross-functional approach to reputation management. To learn more about corporate reputation management, senior leaders should download our decision-makers guide to managing corporate reputation.
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